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Pink lung disease and monkey ear mushrooms

I spent my entire day today...eating, basically. And reading an entire book.

I started at Bouang, where I got a colorful Buddha bowl served to me in a tiny pot.

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Then I got a pot of chamomile tea down the road at a coffee shop. Then a Lao Latte at Saffron cafe.

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Then dinner at The Big Tree restaurant. See? I told you you would be bored if I gave you a detailed play by play of EVERYTHING I do in a day.

I rounded out the day by attending a traditional storytelling theater, where I learned several of the regional stories and tales. It was basically a tiny little theater room with kitchen chairs lined up on different level platforms, with an animated young man telling the stories in English while an adorable little old man played the khene. The khene is a local instrument that Wikipedia rudely calls a “bamboo mouth organ.” The lore is that a young woman heard the most beautiful bird in the forest, and spent days and days trying to recreate the sound, and that’s how the instrument was made.

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We also learned about the story of Mount Phousi, which I have chosen not to climb yet because I knew this storytelling night would give me this tale and I wanted to hear it first. The queen at the time was really craving some mushrooms, so she asked the monkey god to go to Sri Lanka to get them from the mountains for her. He flew all the way there and kept coming back with different kinds of mushrooms, but none were the ones she wanted, so she just kept sending him back again and again. He wanted to know the name of them, but they were called monkey ear mushrooms and she didn't want to tell him that and offend him. So eventually he brought the entire top of the mountain to her, certain that the mushrooms she wanted must be somewhere on it. Phou means mountain, and Si was the first part of her name. Of course now when I finally do climb the mountain you know I’ll be looking for mushrooms that look like monkey ears. First I should google what monkey ears look like.

I finished in one day my new book (compared with the agonizing two weeks for the last one). It was called The Ant Colony by Jenny Valentine, and it was intriguing and fun and simple and moving. Here are a few of my favorite lines:

“I thought about how weird it was, to be missing in one place while you’re right there in another.”

“She looked me up and down and laughed once. ‘Pink lung disease’.
‘What?’
‘Pink lung disease. Don’t you young people know anything?’
She told me about this policeman at the dawn of the motor age who got sent from his village to do traffic duty in Piccadilly. He wasn’t any good at directing traffic. Nobody was because it was a new thing. The policeman got hit by a car and died. The doctor who cut him up had never seen healthy, pink, country lungs before. He was used to city lungs, all black and gooey, so he said that was the cause of it. Pink lung disease. Not a car driving over him at all.”

“I looked at her, smiling at me, her legs sticking out of my sweatshirt like the sticks I’ve thrown down by the river all my life, big-kneed and bleached to bone by the sun. She seriously thought we were friends.”

“It’s quite stressful being on an adventure. You make it so far and then you realize you really can’t mess it up cos everything’s depending on it.”

Posted by NinjaLlama 22:47 Archived in Laos Tagged adventure_time

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